Despite the deaths of two more horses last weekend at Santa Anita Park, officials have refused to cancel the final two weeks of racing at the track.
“It is our understanding that Santa Anita management, after consultation with certain other industry stakeholders, believes that for a variety of reasons, the future of California racing is best served by continuing to race,’” the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) said in a prepared statement.
The call to suspend the meet came after the horses Formal Dude and Truffalino were euthanized on June 8 and June 9, respectively, after collapsing during their races. Formal Dude suffered a fall that led to irreparable injuries. Truffalino suffered a heart attack, according to ESPN.
The latest two incidents bring the total number of horses put down to 29 since December. The meet, or the season of events, is scheduled to end on June 23.
However, the CHRB does not have the authority to suspend racing without the approval of the track operator or holding a public meeting that requires a notice of 10 days.
On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein again called for suspending horse racing at Santa Anita. Feinstein first called for the meet to end in late May. The Los Angeles Times has also called for suspension of racing at the track.
“Either the rules aren’t strong enough or the rules aren’t being followed,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “But whatever the reason for the deaths of two more horses, Santa Anita needs to listen to the California Horse Racing Board and shut down. It should not re-open until full-leg scan equipment is in place, since most pelvis injuries also show lesions in the legs; the dirt track has been replaced with a safer synthetic surface; and the district attorney’s investigation into trainers and veterinarians is complete.”
PETA has already called for an end to horseracing in California, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he supports Senate bill 469, authored Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), which would make it easier to suspend horse racing at a given venue.
The track closed briefly after the 21st horse died in March and officials put new safety protocols in place to protect the horses, including banning race-day medication, increasing transparency of veterinary records, further regulating approval for workouts, and increasing reviews of the track’s surface. Also after the death of the 21st horse, LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey opened an investigation into the deaths, which is ongoing.
Some experts believe the injuries have been caused by an extra hard track created by track officials in response to this year’s above average rainfall.